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our W@W connect event xxxx See pg. 48. Want more respectDon’t in the miss workplace? Get tips at our Jan. 20 breakfast.

January/February 2014

Performance Anxiety

Prepping for your annual review

Surviving a

Media Crisis Would YOU Hire You? Make your résumé stand out

Strategic Networking Be in the right place at the right time

Laurie Leshin

Dean, School of Science, RPI

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Publisher George Hearst III Editorial Janet Reynolds, Executive Editor Brianna Snyder, Associate Editor Design Tony Pallone, Design Director Colleen Ingerto, Emily Jahn, Designers Contributing Writers Laurie Lynn Fischer, Anna Zernone Giorgi, Jennifer Gish, Monica M. Marrow, Silvia Meder Lilly, Merci Miglino, Stacey Morris, Wendy Page, Anne Saile Contributing Photographers Colleen Ingerto, Emily Jahn, Tyler Murphy, Leif Zurmuhlen Sales Kurt Vantosky, Sr. Vice President, Sales & Marketing Kathleen Hallion, Vice President, Advertising Tom Eason, Manager, Display Advertising Michael-Anne Piccolo, Retail Sales Manager Jeff Kiley, Magazine Sales Manager Circulation Todd Peterson, Vice President, Circulation Dan Denault, Home Delivery Manager Business Ray Koupal, Chief Financial Officer Paul Block, Executive Producer Women@Work Advisory Board: Anne Saile†, chair; Marri Aviza†, Kristen Berdar†, Debra Best†, Nancy Carey-Cassidy†, Andrea Crisafulli-Russo†, Kathleen Godfrey†, Ann Hughes†, Theresa Marangas†, Frances O’Rourke, Lydia Rollins†, Curran Streett†, Joella Viscusi, Karen Webley, Kirsten Wynn †

Advisory Board founding members

Capital Region Women@Work is published six times per year. If you are interested in receiving home delivery of Capital Region Women@Work magazine, please call (518) 454-5768 or visit capregionwomenatwork. com. For advertising information, please call (518) 454-5358. Capital Region Women@Work is published by Capital Newspapers and Times Union 645 Albany Shaker Road, Albany, NY 12212 518.454.5694 The entire contents of this magazine are copyright 2013 by Capital Newspapers. No portion may be reproduced in any means without written permission of the publisher. Capital Newspapers is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Hearst Corporation.




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Contents January/February 2014

@ WORK 10 Bitstream

43 Book Review: Think Like Another

Business tidbits for all

14 Tips from the Top Is that meeting really necessary?

How using empathy makes you a better manager

58 The Last Word

16 On the Cover Laurie Leshin reaches for the stars

18 I Did It Evoke Style maven Sandra Dollard

22 Strategic Networking Be in the right place at the right time

26 Would YOU Hire You? Tips to stand out and get in the door for that interview

30 Performance Anxiety Prepping for your annual review

34 Surviving a Media Crisis Make the best of a bad situation

38 Bringing Life to Communities … and communities to life

How do you ask for a raise?

@ HOME 45 Moms@Work Challenges, changes, and choices in the New Year

46 Meals on the Go Holly Shelowitz wants you to eat butter. And eggs.

50 I Resolve To … … make those New Year’s resolutions real — and attainable

52 It’s Not Personal Why developing a thicker skin at work matters

54 Getting Away

Bake For You��������������������������������������38 Baker Public Relations�����������������������34 BST...................................................... 22 Careers in Transition��������������������������26 Clear Spaces Organizing��������������������50 College of St. Rose�����������������������������38 Community Land Trust��������������������� 38 Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region ��������������������������������38 Delark HR Solutions ��������������������������26 Dowling Law������������������������������������� 30 Evoke Style�����������������������������������������18 Fusco Personnel, Inc.��������������������������26 Godfrey Financial Associates������������22 Gramercy Communications���������������34 Granite Services Inc.���������������������������26 The Hungry Fish Cafe�������������������������38 Katie O Weddings and Events����������50 MVP Health Care �������������������������������30 New York State Library Association��38

We need as many different kinds of brain power as we can get in the science fields.

Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber���22


Gorgeous, sunny Puerto Rico

Is your company in this issue?

— Laurie Leshin (Dean, School of Science, RPI)

Nourishing Wisdom���������������������������46 Pierce Communications���������������������34 RPI....................................................... 16 Saile Group, LLC���������������������������������14 Siena College��������������������������������������50 Studio Locks ��������������������������������������50

  ON THE COVER: Laurie Leshin, Dean, School of Science, RPI. Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen.

6 | women@work

The Third Zone ����������������������������������22

! t n e v E l a i c e p S WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT

of Northeastern New York

Women in Development of Northeastern New York is an association of women in the fields of development, advancement, and related professions.

Being Donor Centered in Changing Times: How to Use Donor Trends and New Technologies to Raise More Profit

March 13, 2014 Century House, Latham • 3:00 - 6:00 PM Networking Program & Cocktail Hour

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n SPECIAL EVENT Being Donor Centered in Changing Times: How to Use Donor Trends and New Technologies to Raise More Profit Presented by Penelope Burk, Nationally-Renowned Author March 13 – Networking Program & Cocktail Hour 3:00 – 6:00 PM, Century House, Latham Members $30/Non-members $40 n WID-Tini Ladies Night Out: Member Appreciation and Welcome to New and Future Members May 8 – Membership/Networking Event & Cocktail Hour 5:30 – 7:30 PM, Glennpeter Jewelers Diamond Centre, Albany Free event! n Circuit Training for Development Professionals June 10 – Breakfast Program Century House, Latham, 8:00 – 10:00 AM Members $20/Non-members $35

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n Educational opportunities n Networking possibilities n Mentoring relationships

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It’s Not About You I

t seems counter-intuitive — at least it did to me for years — but just about everything that happens to us at work is actually not about us. It’s about the issue/opportunity/project at hand. Sure, we’re involved in the project or whatever, and our input matters in varying degrees depending on our role in the project, but oftentimes the dynamics surrounding said project — how smoothly it goes, what kind of collaborations occur, people’s perceived obstacles, etc. — have nothing to do with the task at hand but instead have to do with whatever else is going on in the participants’ lives, either now or in the past. Which is why things go awry in such puzzling ways at times. How did a conversation about a business project

suddenly morph into personal questions about competence? Why does a meeting about vision suddenly twist into a power struggle for one view and one view only? Because not everyone realizes this simple point: It’s not personal; it’s business. It’s an idealized view I know, but if everyone in an office uttered this mantra before heading into a meeting, or if they mentally took a step back in the middle of a meeting suddenly filled with tension and reminded themselves of this fact, everything would go a lot smoother. I’m not suggesting it’s easy. I’m certainly as capable as the next person of getting a button pushed and reacting before I remember to take a big breath and step back. While it may feel deeply personal, it’s not. It’s business. Period.  W


Janet Reynolds Executive Editor

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am able to apply what

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BITSTREAM Compiled by Brianna Snyder

• 55% of LinkedIn members are women.


ere at Women@Work, we like to browbeat readers into getting on LinkedIn. The site is crucial in establishing a resourceful network of contacts and connections. Don’t believe us? Check out these statistics on this growing and evolving social-business medium: source:

• 61% use LinkedIn as their primary professional network.

• 81% of users belong to at least one group.

• 42% update their information regularly.

• More than one million groups are on LinkedIn.

• 37% change their profile picture regularly.

222 22 2 2 2 2 222222 2 2 2 2 222 2222 22222 2222 222 2 2 2 22 22 222 2 2 2222 2 2 2 222 2 2 2 2 22222 222222 222222 222

• 50% of LinkedIn users have a bachelor’s or graduate degree.

• LinkedIn has 200 million registered users worldwide. • Two new members sign up on LinkedIn every second.

• 35% of the users access LinkedIn daily.

1.3 million

Share 10 | women@work

• Over 20 million students and recent college graduates are on LinkedIn, which makes them the site’s fastest-growing demographic.

• More than 1.3 million unique publishers actively use the LinkedIn Share button on their sites to send content into the platform.

• More than 2.6 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages. • 50% of Fortune 100 companies hire through LinkedIn. • The platform gets over 2 billion network updates viewed weekly.

Photo: Linkedin Illustration by Emily Jahn; Glove, Image Source/Getty Images.

The Perks of

• 90% of LinkedIn users think the site is useful because it helps them connect with people from the respective industry as possible clients; because it’s more professional than Facebook; or because it allows hiring people that recruiters (or managers) wouldn’t regularly meet.

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.

The Velvet Glove

– George Eliot

Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.

– Oprah Winfrey

9 to 5


s it effective to be a kind leader? Or does a kind leader look weak? According to Forbes Woman, “[I]n today’s age of open feedback available on the Web both from customers and employees, being a kind leader is essential to success.”


eing kind doesn’t mean you don’t make tough decisions, Forbes continues. It means you make work a pleasant experience for both your employees and your customers. According to randomact- — a business blog — “Kindness requires us to coach, mentor, slightly pull, lightly cajole, and always be honest on what the issues may be. All the while, we need to embrace the individual. It is not an embrace to hold them in place or make them conform to our ways. It is an embrace of kindness. A smile to lift up their gifts and a steely gaze to encourage them to unwrap them.” This is called the “iron fist in a velvet glove” approach. source:

By Jeanne A. Benas | 11



hen lunch and drinks take up too much time (and brain cells), try this alternative: “power pedicures.” The New York Post reports that women executives in NYC are hosting these events, “30 to 50-minute brainstorming sessions which combine industry talk with cuticle care, callus removal and numerous coatings of nail lacquer.” It’s private, quiet and less expensive than a three-martini lunch. Not bad. source:

Dealing with Employee Burnout


he money-management site recommends a few tips for dealing with burned-out employees. How do you know when your staff’s getting a little run down? Look for an uptick in unexplained absences, showing up late and leaving early, lack of enthusiasm and isolation. If you start seeing that, try this: Hold regular staff meetings. Give your employees a chance to discuss what they’re working on and dealing with. They might need to air frustrations or talk about challenges that are keeping them behind. Emphasize positives. Burned-out employees tend to focus on the negative. Highlighting the positive helps reinvigorate morale. Clarify expectations. Your employees want to know where they stand and what they should be working on. It helps keep them — and you — focused. Show your appreciation. Buy a round of coffee and bagels, an office masseuse for an afternoon, or giving everyone a day off. Everyone works harder when they feel as if their work is good and necessary. source:

12 | women@work

Photos:GettyImages. Manicure, piranka; Burnout, kristian sekulic; Coffee, Rob McRobert; Shoes, yasinguneysu; Gun, ballyscanlon; Peppers, maria paz morales.

Power Pedis

Calorie Cut W

ant to burn calories without breaking a sweat? NBC News suggests a few ways to burn a few cals literally without sweating — perfect for the office. source:

• Drink coffee (this one’s easy); caffeine increases your calorie-burn rate.

• Walk quickly. Headed to the bathroom? Power-walk.

• Fidget. It can burn up to 350 more calories a day(!). Tap your feet, wiggle, dance in your seat, play with your hair, etc. • Chew gum. Burns a few calories, plus keeps you from boredom- or stress-snacking. • Eat a spicy lunch. Spicy food can temporarily increase metabolism.


Is This Meeting

Really Necessary?

Anne Saile is an award winning CEO, entrepreneur, executive coach, author and owner of the Saile Group LLC, a leadership and business consulting company. For more information, visit

Photo by Andrea Uvanni

By Anne Saile


y friend Lois (not her real name) is always worrying about the number of hours she spends at home doing work she can’t get to during the day. She worries she’s neglecting her family but says she can’t accomplish her work during the day because she’s in constant, back-to-back meetings. “The schedule of meetings makes it impossible for me to have quiet time at my desk to focus on the real work I have to do to meet deadlines,” she says. Do you ever feel that way? To the casual observer it might look as if you are incredibly productive and busy all day long, when in reality you’re spending time in meetings that don’t contribute to your bottom line. Your boss wants to know where your projects stand, but you don’t have time to work on most of them in the office. We all make lists of things we need to change and for many of us, reducing meeting time could go right to the top. Time spent in too many meetings can make you restless and anxious — the opposite of productive. When one of my daughters was 10, she accompanied me to work for a glimpse of what I did all day. But something urgent came up and the day was spent in meeting after meeting making “high stakes” decisions. At day’s end, I commented on how exhausted I was from such a busy day. Her response? “Why are you tired mom? All you did was lounge out (meaning sit around) all day talking to people!”

14 | women@work

Her comments were a wake-up call that had me thinking whether or not time spent in meetings was productive. Did I really need to be in every meeting? Were the meetings structured in a way that made the most of the talent in the room? These questions were important, because like my friend Lois, I was bringing hours of work home that I couldn’t get done during the day because I was sitting in meetings. My daughter’s observation that I was “lounging out” and my feeling of exhaustion were both true. Meetings zap time and energy, and in turn reduce profitability and productivity. They can propel businesses forward when used effectively, and waste valuable time and talent when they’re not. Here are some thoughts on making the most of the time we spend in meetings: 1. Always have an agenda with a time frame for each item, and make sure the purpose of the meeting is crystal clear. Be ruthless in knocking things off the agenda that really don’t need the group’s input. 2. Share necessary background information in advance. Doing this will naturally generate more productive discussion. 3. Begin and end meetings on time. Period. 4. Invite people who can make decisions and actively contribute — too often staff who really do the work on a project are left out of a management meeting. 5. Don’t allow bystanders. Bystanders are people who don’t speak in a meeting;

they don’t contribute a single word. One way to avoid this is to go around the table and ask everyone to give their opinion. 6. Schedule meetings for the least amount of time possible. Have you every noticed that most meetings are scheduled for one hour … just because? 7. Don’t allow victims. Victims are people who won’t speak their mind in the meeting but will talk about how upset they were with the decision once they’ve left the room. This can be avoided by setting a ground rule that every person has to speak up and provide options if they disagree with the plan that is made. 8. Even if it’s a “team meeting,” a leader or meeting chair should be appointed and charged with sticking to the agenda and maintaining the flow. 9. The meeting chair should summarize the most important points that were made, the decisions agreed to and the next steps. Assignments should be made so that accountability for implementing the specific actions will be more likely to happen. 10. At the end of every meeting, after the summary has been given, go around the table to ask each participant for their final word. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page. And remember, for every minute you spend in an unproductive meeting you’re trading time that could be spent on something of value to your career, your business and your family.  W 

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Life on Mars By Brianna Snyder  |  Photos by Leif Zurmuhlen


aurie Leshin has taken one giant step for womankind in the sciences. She’s the dean of the School of Science and professor of earth & environmental science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She spent six years as a senior executive at NASA and is currently on the Curiosity team, the group that oversaw the Mars rover mission that launched in late 2011. President Barrack Obama recently appointed her to the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. She has an asteroid named after her: 4922 Leshin. Her speciality is a field we’re all interested in but few of us have much interaction with: astrobiology, or the study of life in the universe. At RPI, Leshin works on getting girls into science, or the field popularly referred to as STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. About a third of the student population at RPI are women, Leshin says, and RPI is on the path to expanding its women base. One way the college is doing that, she says, is by hiring more women. “We hired eight new faculty members,” she says. “Half were women. That’s the direction we need to be going, and that’s just in the school of science.” Some of those hires, she notes, were “senior hires,” which are hard to come by. If you think a shortage of women in the STEM field is a problem now, you should’ve seen it 20 or 30 years ago. “Hiring from the junior pool is getting easier,” Leshin says, thanks to more women becoming interested in and pursuing STEM. The trickier part is “keeping women in the pipeline.” Leshin describes a phenomenon in 16 | women@work

Laurie Leshin reaches for the stars the STEM field referred to as “the leaky pipeline.” For whatever reason, “we lose girls and women all along the way,” starting as early as middle school, when girls start to lose interest in math and science, all the way through college, when women graduate and get jobs and life situations pull them away from these careers. “There are probably as many rea-

easy chic

The Download on

Laurie Leshin Title: Dean, School of Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, since 2011; spent 6 years as a senior executive at NASA; still a member of the Curiosity team whose Rover is exploring Mars

which means fewer students are able to enroll in various programs. “The budget question in general is handcuffing our future, not just for space but all across science and research,” she says. “We here at Rensselaer are seeing reduction in proposals and reductions in funding and that’s going to mean training fewer students. That’s bad for the country just when we need innovative minds working on the biggest challenges.” Leshin’s work is interesting not just as an educator, women’s advocate and explorer of other planets, but also as a person whose work deeply influences the way she understands life. “We get to ask the biggest questions humans can ask,” she says. “Where did we come from and what is our future and are we alone? Those questions touch people in a very fundamental way. We’ve all looked at the stars in the sky and wondered if someone was doing the same thing from where they are. There’s a way to connect with people in this science.”  W 

Guilty pleasure: “I don’t know if it’s guilty but what I do for fun is weaving, like scarves and wraps mostly. Buying

Favorite quote: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay, computer scientist

Lives now: Loudonville Education: Arizona State University, bachelor’s in chemistry; California Institute of Technology, Ph.D. in geochemistry

Rhinebeck NY 6406 Montgomery St. 845.516.4150

What’s your favorite movie about space? “I am loving the new Star Trek. I think it’s very imaginative and welldone. I also liked Armageddon — even though it’s totally inaccurate.”

Family: married; two step-sons

Hometown: Tempe, Arizona

Albany NY Stuyvesant Plaza 1475 Western Ave. 518.512.5240

yarn might be my guilty pleasure.”

Do you believe there’s life outside of Earth? “I would be very surprised if we were alone in the universe. But I think our generation has the opportunity to answer the question. Over the next few decades we should be able to build telescopes to see other planets. So we should be able to answer this question. I can’t imagine anything more exciting.”

Age: 48

Fab5 photography for Evoke Style by Joann Hoose

sons as people [that women leave the field],” Leshin says. “But, you know, it’s clearly something we have to keep working on to make it better. We need their brain power. We need as many different kinds of brain power as we can get in science fields.” Leshin is a big advocate for this, as well as for education and the exploration of the sciences. Sometimes the ways in which girls and women are pulled away from this field are subtle. When Leshin was a grad student, for instance, her office was on an upper-level floor and the women’s bathroom was in a whole other lower level of the building. The reason? “When the building was built, the only place women would be were around where the secretaries and librarians were,” she says. That’s a “goofy” story, she says, laughing, but adds, “Those are kind of the subtle things that we need to change.” Leshin is particularly troubled by the ongoing sequester, which has resulted in deep cuts to schools and universities,


A Shop of

Her Own

Style maven Sandra Dollard

B Head By Wendy Page  |  Photos by Colleen Ingerto


ou can take the girl out of the city but not the city out of the girl — and for Evoke Style’s proprietor Sandra Dollard, the city of Albany is who she is. “I came from Albany. I know Albany,” she says, dismissing the idea of envisioning her shop anywhere else in the Capital Region — although she did just open another Evoke Style shop in Rhinebeck. Dollard grew up in Albany with her two sisters and one brother, all of whom have remained in the area. She went away to college for one year (“I had a checkered college career,” she admits) before returning to Albany, where she managed her first clothing store at the age of 20 and then was an interior designer for 17 years at Stickley, Audi & Co. Dollard left Stickley and returned to school to earn a business degree. “At 45, I went back to Empire, worked full time, and got my degree in 17 months,” she says. A friend actually led her in the direction of creating a clothing shop, and once the idea was set, Dollard tackled her goal with perseverance and planning. She did research, including five months of focus groups, and six months after earning her business degree, opened up Evoke Style in Stuyvesant Plaza, in August 2010. 18 | women@work

continued on page 20



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May Lose Value


continued from page 18

Believing the area needed a place with comfortable shoes, as well as a healthy choice of handbags, Dollard thought Stuyvesant Plaza was a natural fit. “I worked in the plaza since I was 18. I knew it was where I want to be. They’re fantastic here,” she says. The people of Albany have been great to her, too. Which is one reason she strongly believes in giving back to the Albany community. She regularly sponsors in-store events for various charities. “I have a good idea of the city, and I want to support the city,” she says. Dollard found the name for the shop (please don’t call it a store; “store is too institutional,” Dollard says) while walking down a random street in Santa Fe, N.M., where she noticed the word evoke. “I thought, ‘What does evoke evoke in you?’” she remembers. “I added style because I didn’t know what direction we were going. I didn’t want to label us one thing. I wanted us to be able to be a multitude of things, so we can morph if we want.” And morph she has, and will continue to do so. As a newbie to the business, Dollard says she regularly talks and net20 | women@work

works with others in the industry. “I’m still learning,” she says.


he style at Evoke is “classic with a twist,” says Dollard. “Our demo is 30 and up.” Specializing in unique items — “you’re not going to see our things in Macy’s and Bloomingdales” — the shop sells fashionable, mostly European shoes — all from the comfort division — as well as handbags, accessories, clothing, hats, jewelry, scarves and more. Dollard looks for style and a “diversity of look,” she explains. “Things that are a little more edgy, and things that are traditional.” Just as important as the items in the shop — maybe more important — is the shop’s attitude. “We like to be about service, “ Dollard says. “Finding clothes that fit well. Fit is so important. I would have opened up an 1850s salon where women can talk if I could. … Basically, I saw a need in the community for what I wanted to do. I love fashion, and shopping is more than shopping. It’s time with your girlfriends, time off from life. You go out and have a little fun and splurge.”

The Download on

Sandra Dollard: Title: Proprietor, Evoke Style Age: 49 Lives in: Albany. “I am born and raised Albanian.” Family: Husband, Chuck, to whom she’s been married 25 years; one pet, “a fabulous dog named Roy.” Guilty pleasure: “Chocolate and red wine.” Surprising fact: “I’m much more outdoorsy than people think.” Source of inspiration: “The women who come in my shop. I have fantastic women.” Her “Fab 5” clients are now her good friends. Biggest challenge to overcome: “The loss of my mom at an early age. She was 64 when she died.” Favorite TV show: “I don’t watch TV. I like Motown.”

Retirement isn’t free. (However, this booklet is.)

Dollard’s Top Tips For Success: • “Make sure you do a very detailed business plan.” • “Make sure you are not undercapitalized.” • “Speak to the community and listen to what the community tells you.” • “Most importantly, pay it forward.”

We’d love to meet you! Dollard practices what she preaches about service. When I visit the shop, she can’t wait to put together outfits for me, removing something if I don’t love it, accessorizing, always making sure I am comfortable in the clothes. She’s all about finding what makes her customer look and feel best, offering advice on styles and body type, and treating the customer as if she were an old, dear friend. As Dollard explains, the shop “caters to women’s needs.” With sizes covering from 0 to 16, the shop features high-end designers for different figures, where “we ask women categorically what they’re looking for. I go into my own closet all the time.” Dollard has three rules for her 10 employees in the Albany shop and the two in Rhinebeck: “First, they need to like chocolate. Second, no attitude and no gossip. And third, if they’re having a bad day, take it off. Don’t bring it into the shop. I really want people to have a good shopping experience here.” And that’s true, Dollard says, even for the women who come in but ultimately don’t buy anything. “Everybody has their look of what they’re comfortable with,” Dollard says, “and I’m not going to take anyone out of their comfort zone. We don’t gauge as much to a look as to a fit.”  W

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Strategic Networking

Being at the right place at the right time


t’s hard to argue with the fact that networking works. Every day, numerous sales deals, business ventures, and job changes occur as the result of associations that started with a simple introduction and handshake between two people — two people who were at the right place at the right time. Even if you attempt to shrug off “chance meetings” to luck or fate, you can give your destiny a nudge by ensur22 | women@work

ing that you put yourself in the right place to start, so you’ll be set to make the right connections when the time is right. However, making yourself available takes time, time you might argue that you don’t have. “We are all busy. As a businesswoman, you need to be seen in the community, to have a presence. Otherwise, who’d ever know (1) who you are; (2) what you do; (3) who you’re looking to work with; (4) or realize that you

may be just the right person they’ve been looking for?” says Kathleen Godfrey, president of Godfrey Financial Associates in Latham. Making the commitment to networking isn’t easy. Choosing from among the numerous options available in any given week or month can be a daunting task. “It could be breakfast, lunch, and dinner, five days a week. And you could deplete your networking funds without even

Illustration: GettyImages/Robert Hanson.

By Anna Zernone Giorgi

realizing it. So, I think the whole notion of being strategic is a critical thing,” says Barbara Wisnom, executive and business coach at The Third Zone in Albany.

Finding the Right Fit Before you begin to pick and choose where to put your networking efforts, it’s important to have goals and be realistic about how networking can help you achieve them. “Networking isn’t about lead sharing unless you’re in a leads group. It’s not about walking into a room and handing out your business cards and pamphlets about what you do. It’s about building relationships and that does take time,” says Laura Dehmer, vice president at the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber. You’ll succeed in establishing productive relationships if you choose networking events that occur in environments in which you feel comfortable. Consider venues that offer an educational presentation or other programming if you’re immobilized by the thought of walking into a roomful of strangers for an entire evening of open mingling. You’ll present a more confident and engaging image if you pursue circumstances where you’re likely to be the most at ease. “I think being comfortable has to be first because that’s when we’re at our best. When we can walk in a room and really start to make those relationships rather than have it feel forced. You want to talk to someone who’s being genuine and with whom you feel that you could establish some sort of rapport,” Dehmer says. In addition to considering your personal compatibility, it’s important to assess whether an event is compatible with your business goals. Knowing who you are, what you have to offer, and your target audience, are key factors that can help direct you toward events that may be the most productive for you, Wisnom says. “My target audience isn’t going to be at every single event. So, I have to know the demographics of the people who I want to reach so that I can identify the right kind of event.”

Understanding your market and what you’re trying to accomplish may even lead you to events that may not seem obvious. “We have a nonprofit business council. A lot of people think if they’re not a nonprofit, then it wouldn’t benefit them to attend it, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. They hire people; they buy equipment; they buy furniture; they do payroll services; they have accountants and attorneys, and everything along that line. So, if you see them as clients, that would be a logical place to go. They’re some of the bigger employers in the area,” Dehmer says. Deciding if a particular organization is


help you be even more targeted in your efforts, Wisnom says. “You can identify a certain person who works for XYZ Company, and if you’re really trying to get in XYZ Company, you might see that it’s definitely the place for you to be.” Social media also can be helpful if you are trying to define the attendance and atmosphere of an event. “I’m pretty active on LinkedIn and get some great updates through that site,” Godfrey says. “It can be a great source of networking ‘intelligence’ — i.e. you know who’s attending such-and-such event. If you want to connect with that person, it’s usually good to be seen at the same types of events.”

At the end of the meeting or event, you have to be able to say to yourself, ‘That time was well spent and worth being away from my family.’

– KRISTEN BERDAR, CPA, partner at BST in Albany right for you may require some investigating. You’ll likely find that it’s time well spent, though, if it will help lead you in the right direction. “I like to research each organization to find out as much as I can about its membership and criteria for joining as well as the reputation of the group and its sponsors. Then, I evaluate the potential connections against our business plan to see if being involved will help us attain our goals,” says Kristen Berdar, CPA, partner at BST in Albany. Do as much research as possible for any event if you’re unsure whether it will meet your needs. “It can be simply picking up the phone to call the contact number. Find out who sponsors it. What’s the makeup of the people who are there? What’s the purpose of the people being there? Are they networking also? Is it an educational event?” Wisnom says. If possible, talk to the organizer directly or to a friend who has been to a meeting. Some organizations publish a list of who is going to be there, which can

In identifying the attendees at an event, it’s also wise to give consideration to the positions of those attending. “Different positions in a company would dictate which events would be attended: a CEO or higher-level executive would want to attend an event that was more tuned into their needs, versus a generic ‘mixer’ that may be more appropriate for sales professionals,” Godfrey says. Other factors such as cost and member accessibility also may be worth investigating. “Some business groups are quite pricey which may lead you to believe they are better, which is not necessarily the case. In addition, some groups encourage business within the membership and others do not. You just have to ask many questions and find the group that offers the most potential for you,” Berdar says. “At the end of the meeting or event, you have to be able to say to yourself, ‘That time was well spent and worth being away from my family.’” However, with some organizations or | 23

How Much is Enough? Even after streamlining your options with planning and research, it’s likely you’ll still have more networking opportunities than time to attend them. There’s no set number of events that will guarantee business success. “I think it depends on where you are in your business life. During the first one to three years, I would try to attend as many events as possible,”

24 | women@work

Even if you can’t attend all the events you think you should, it’s important to implement your networking strategy whenever possible. “In addition to events, I like to schedule lunches and coffee with our centers of influence and existing clients. This helps to cut down on after work hours, which can be essential if you are balancing children with a full-time career. Don’t forget that your existing clients can be the referral sources,” Berdar says. Time you put in at nonprofits, trade associations, educational forums, annual dinners, and award events are all valuable and can count toward your goals for strategic networking. “It doesn’t have to be defined as a networking event,” Wisnom says. “If you’re going to be in a place where there’s people, network it because you just never know who you are going to meet.”  W 

Photo: GettyImages/Johnny Greig.

events, it just might require your showing up to determine whether the fit is right for you. If you attend a group where you don’t feel at ease, or the event isn’t what you had anticipated, don’t waste your initial visit. “A little trial and error is probably not a terrible thing, as long as you’ve decided that ‘I’m not going to waste any opportunity. If I meet one person, I’ll follow up with them.’ You never know where that will lead,” Dehmer says.

Godfrey says. “As you mature into your business, you may be choosier about which events you’ll attend. You’ll also have a better sense of the return on investment for your time.” Your position also may determine how much of your time is appropriate for networking. “You have to know your job, and what your responsibility is in terms of keeping the pipeline filled,” Wisnom says. “You usually don’t see the teller from the bank at the networking event; you see the branch manager because they have numbers to meet.” While the roles may differ for younger versus experienced professionals, the need to attend and be present at events remains constant throughout your career. “It’s always wise to not stop networking because there’s always new people coming to the community, or new opportunities, or staffing opportunities, or people who you would like to have work for you. I would argue that there’s probably never a time that you don’t need to do some of it just to stay relevant,” Dehmer says. Conditions that affect your workload, business priorities, and personal responsibilities can change from month to month. Though your available networking time may fluctuate, you can still achieve your goals. “Some months are busier than others. I like to look at the events offered and chose the event where I think I can meet the most new contacts or see the most clients. Those contacts could be potential new clients or new referral sources. Events are all about making connections,” Berdar says. “I do set a goal for each event to leave with a few new action items from either existing clients or new prospects.”

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By Monica M. Marrow


bsolutely nothing. That’s what the typical hiring manager knows about you, and he or she has no information to go on other than what you provide on a sheet of paper. More times than not your résumé, sent through cyberspace in response to an ad for a single open position, will be one of about a hundred others just like it. Does yours entice a potential employer to pick up the phone and invite you in for an interview? If your personal assessment says, “My résumé is gorgeous!” then, says Tom Denham, career counselor and managing partner of Careers in Transition in Albany, it’s possible the recruiter might say that, too. If “just OK” is more the description, chances are that’s also how a potential employer sees it and for today’s job seeker, he says, that’s a problem. Keep in mind: a résumé is a sales pitch. “You’re trying to sell you,” he says. “My theory is that if somebody reads your résumé and can’t figure out what you want, it needs to be reworked. The goal of the ré26 | women@work

sumé is to get read and be a call to action for them to call you for an interview.” Poor formatting, multiple fonts and typos are basic résumé “don’ts,” says Denham, a personal advocate of the single-page résumé. Patty Fusco, president and CEO of Fusco Personnel Inc. in Albany, agrees a résumé should be concise but says if it does extend beyond one side of a page, two sides is the absolute maximum. She, too, looks first for typos and formatting issues in every résumé she receives. On average, that’s about 175 a week, depending on the jobs available. With double the placements of last year and more than 100 local positions to fill, most of them full-time with benefits, Fusco Personnel isn’t seeing signs of a sluggish job market. But what is noticeable is the higher-than-average number of executive-level individuals among the agency’s current job seekers. “They have unbelievable skill sets and talent, but they’ve been in careers where

they’ve never had to write a résumé,” says Fusco. “They’ve been doing their job for however long, and now are back in the game and have to sell themselves. Most people just don’t know how to do that.” With more employers gravitating toward an online application process, she incorporates strategies that successfully push the résumé past the gatekeeper. “The first five skills listed in the job description? They should be listed all over your résumé!” she says. The employers’ language needs to be incorporated, and the résumé should be tailored to the current job. Tory Johnson takes the same stance. Founder and CEO of Women for Hire and contributor to ABC news, Johnson suggests printing any job postings found to be appealing, then highlighting the keywords and industry language that describe the skill requirements and responsibilities. Compare those words and phrases to the résumé language, and begin adding the most relevant keywords. Applicant track-

Photo: Gary Waters/GettyImages.

Would YOU hire you?

Tips to stand out and get in the door for that interview


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Social media and your job search How important is networking when job searching? Tom Denham of Careers In Transition in Albany is a firm believer in maintaining a professional, up-to-date LinkedIn profile. The site enables potential employers to find candidates, and allows job seekers to find people in a company or a field of choice. Employers will undoubtedly search for information about candidates through social media sites. Thus, Denham advises ensuring any information that could be found on the Internet advances, rather than damages, the job seeker’s reputation. As much as he favors social media networking, though, Denham says job seekers should spend far more face time with friends and colleagues, asking for advice. For example, someone who works for a company of interest may be able to offer valuable information on its corporate culture or on the personal style of its HR manager. Debra Antonelli of Delark HR

Solutions in Delmar, says women in management roles, especially, should include their LinkedIn address on their résumé, provided it adds value. She suggests also including any other business links that would offer additional positive information. The LinkedIn profile, networking, and follow-up are all important, but the first and most important component of a job search, however, is the résumé, says Alison Doyle, job search expert for “It seems obvious,” she says, “but if your résumé isn’t getting you interviews, it won’t matter much how well you network. You only have a few seconds to make an impression on a hiring manager and your résumé will help make it a good one. Your goal is to secure an interview and if your résumé isn’t selected by the hiring manager or the software the company uses to screen applicants, you will be out of consideration for the job.”

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28 | women@work

been in. Women should not be afraid to show their ability to adapt to a high-volume, fast-paced environment, and why they are skilled to do that and do it well.” Johnson agrees. “Demonstrate how you found solutions to organizational challenges,” she states. “Think of your accomplishments in terms of the problem faced, action taken and results achieved. Recruiters like seeing the progression from problem to action to results.” Those overused, every-day terms that don’t say much about skills, DiLorenzo says, should be replaced with statements that actually illustrate abilities. She frequently sees things such as, “I am a hard worker” or “an enthusiastic employee.” Instead of saying you’re a great multi-tasker, she suggests showing that quality on a résumé with something like “…managed 4 projects while still maintaining my everyday role.”

“Remember,” adds Johnson, “this is a sales pitch and you want to offer the right product to each potential buyer.” A sign of the times, says Fusco, is a greater number of short-term positions listed under experience. “For temporary, seasonal or contract positions,” she says, “you can always take those jobs and list them in a section of additional experience, with job X from 2002 to 03 and job Y from 2003-04, for instance.” When there’s a reason for all the short-term or temp jobs, it should be addressed; otherwise the candidate looks like a “job hopper,” which she says is a red flag to employers. Extra activities and associations are especially key to the résumés of career

This is a sales pitch and you “want to offer the right product


to each potential buyer.

s for the actual compo– TORY JOHNSON, CEO, Women for Hire nents of a résumé, some once-standard items have become somewhat passé in the 21st cenchangers, says Johnson. “If you are tury. For instance, “References furnished switching into IT sales after 10 years upon request” is unnecessary, says in pharmaceutical sales,” for example, Denham. He is indifferent to an objec“demonstrate your seriousness about tive statement, but Fusco says she is far the IT industry. Listing an IT industry more likely to simply delete the objective association affiliation or adult education entirely as she finds it’s often generic and certification in that field proves you are of little to no substance. serious about the change. Include any Johnson concurs that a generic objecactivities or honors that show your affiliative has no value and suggests using it as tion with your industry.” a tailoring opportunity. “Way too many When leaving the job market, perhaps people plug in the old stand-by, ‘Seeking to care for elderly parents or a newborn, a position with a multi-faceted company for example, Denham recommends that will put my talents to good use while actively maintaining a skill base, which enhancing my skills.’ Huh? That’s a bunch will provide something to show for the of nonsense that doesn’t impress recruittime away from the workforce which ers,” she writes. “Use this valuable space can be listed as relevant experience, he to convey your key capabilities and how says. “Did you volunteer your time, take you’re ideally looking to apply them.” courses, go to networking events? Do you A suggested rule of thumb is to include have a LinkedIn profile? If not, you won’t three job qualifications that you possess be able to compete with someone who that make you an ideal candidate for the can answer yes to those same questions.” job. Keep the statement action verb-driven.

Photo: Alex Belomlinsky/GettyImages.

ing systems search for keyword matches. The more matches the better, which often determines whether a recruiter will view a particular résumé — or not. For example, writes Johnson on her website, “If your résumé mentions ‘Internship at ABC, freelance production work for HBO, and various commercials for key cable clients,’ but never mentions simple words like television or broadcasting, it’s likely never to come up in an online search performed by a TV station’s HR manager.” Offering similar advice is Nancy DiLorenzo of Granite Services Inc. in Albany. In her role as service manager, she posts job descriptions and screens applicants for open positions. “I don’t know of other companies besides ours that calls what I do a service manager position, so I make sure to include terms like HR management or HR operations management. With automated systems, if the buzzwords are not there, the résumé will never be seen.” Once past the first hurdle, the candidate needs to make an impact — and quickly. “The time spent on a résumé is anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes — tops,” says Debra Antonelli of Delark HR Solutions in Delmar. “Women underestimate the power of paper. It’s the only thing that is seen first, so you have to make that piece of paper speak to who you are,” she says. “What captures me is what makes you unique and different from the next candidate. The more you can tell me that you are an overall fit for my company, not just a technical fit, I will have a sense of who you will be in my work environment.” Showcase your successes, says Denham. “Job seekers are often too timid in touting achievements,” which are precisely what Antonelli says she wants to see. “It’s not just the work you’ve done but the accomplishments,” Antonelli says. “I like to see stats and numbers. If you’re a sales professional, include your goals and whether you met or exceeded them,” she adds. “Bring in the things that made you have the strength to be in the roles you’ve

Once the send button is pressed and the résumé has been submitted, what’s the best next step? Since electronic submission doesn’t provide candidates with a person to speak with on the phone, Alison Doyle, job search expert for suggests exploring connections that might exist with the company. “I’d check on LinkedIn and with my college career office to see if I could obtain a list of alumni connections. I’d then see if those connections could help refer or recommend me to the hiring manager.” Similarly, Johnson suggests making a list of 50 people you know and asking each one if they know someone who

works, or has worked, for that company. “I would always suggest that an individual seriously interested in a position should follow up,” Antonelli says. “If it’s a purely electronic submission, you don’t know to whom that résumé is circulating. Call and ask to speak with the recruiter or hiring manager. Indicate that you submitted your résumé and hadn’t heard back and want to take the opportunity to make sure it was received. You might get lucky — it could give you a chance to talk to somebody. Sitting back is not an option.” For DiLorenzo, the follow-up after a résumé submission isn’t as important as the follow-up after an interview. “When people take a few minutes to send an

email and say ‘Thank you, I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about your company,’ that impresses me,” she says. “If it was a panel interview and you don’t have all names, you can still send a thank you to one person,” she says. “‘I enjoyed meeting you and your colleagues,’ for example. I will forward it on to them and they will see it, as well. It’s good manners! And you were obviously impressed enough to get back to me and say thank you.” While there may be a plethora of guidelines and suggestions for effective job searching, every hiring manager is an individual, with his or her own preferences and dislikes regarding résumés, cover letters, or some other aspect of the application process. “The reality is there are far too many factors involved to say you should or shouldn’t do this or that,” Doyle says. “What works best for some people, industries, or companies might not work well for others. So, you may want to experiment with what gets results. One way to do that is to get advice, if you can, from connections at the employer. Also check out the company’s career website and social accounts. Google the company. The more inside information you have and the more you know about the company culture, the better positioned you’ll be to secure an interview — and to ace that interview.” Doyle also suggests maintaining more than one version of a résumé, although every version should be tailored to the job. “You can see which one gets the best results when you’re applying for jobs. Keep track of the jobs you apply to and the response you get,” she says. While timing and luck are always a factor, Doyle says, “the people with the best timing and the most luck are those who work at job searching even when they aren’t actively job seeking.” Having an updated résumé on hand, maintaining a current profile on LinkedIn, and building a network of connections all will better position the job seeker for success.  W | 29

Performance Anxiety


arly in her career, Jennifer Regan, now the director of marketing and business development for MVP Health Care, struggled to hear constructive criticism. High performers, she says, sometimes have a hard time facing areas where they may not be strong. But someone once told her that constructive criticism dealt early on in her career would be “the best gift.” “I’d much rather have a review where someone puts thought into it,” she says, “rather than a pat on the back.” Now, she’s sat on both sides of the table during performance reviews, and she sees them not just as opportunities for the company to get the best out of employees, but 30 | women@work

Prepping for your annual review a chance for employees to develop as professionals. Making the most of a review is important to companies and employees. Much as you psyche yourself up for a job interview by being prepared with questions and listening to what is being said, you should be similarly ready for your review. And that means shedding your defenses at the conference room door. “It’s important to show that you take the feedback seriously, and that you’re being a professional about it,” says Joanmarie Dowling, an attorney who has her own Albany practice, Dowling Law, and concentrates on representing employers on labor and employment matters.

“Supervisors are going to look to two things: They’re going to look toward your initial response, and they’re going to look toward your long-term response. If you have an initial bad response, that can be career damaging. Also, they expect that you’re going to deliver, so I think part of it is information gathering or trying to understand what the expectations are, what tools are available. If you feel like you need additional training, consider that as something you might ask for.” As much as we identify with our work, criticism of how you file reports can almost be as hurtful as suggesting that you really shouldn’t have let your

Photo: Paul Bradbury/GettyImages.

By Jennifer Gish

Deb Best Practices hairdresser talk you into those sideswept bangs. But it’s key to look at the job as the job, Dowling says, and realize your supervisor is discussing your work, not your value as a person, or even an employee. “All of these things are incredibly challenging things to do because you’ve got the emotion of receiving feedback,” she says. “As much as you can, try to separate yourself from your work. They’re giving feedback about the work right now, and we’re together trying to problem solve how we address this work situation.” That becomes particularly difficult if you feel your supervisor’s impression of your job performance or the office dynamic isn’t accurate. But a performance review isn’t the time to pass blame. “Don’t throw stones. What managers look for and what is most successful is when you focus on yourself and what you’re accountable for,” says Paula Heller, senior vice president of human resources at CHA in Albany, a full-service engineering consulting firm. “Individuals are going to sometimes disagree. In the end, though it is your manager’s perception of your performance and it is a very subjective exercise, you have to recognize how you’re being perceived, and is this information going to help you improve. Because you could point your finger and say, ‘It’s the manager. I don’t agree,’ but are you looking at yourself and what you could do differently?” Your performance review is not the time to debate, either. Hear what is said and take time to reflect on it. If you really believe you have important information to offer your boss, ask for a follow-up meeting, where you say you’ve heard what was said and you want to provide some additional thoughts. “[In the evaluation] soak up that feedback and listen intently and don’t offer context for anything. Then deliberate on that,” Regan says. “I feel like it has to be a separate conversation. The space allows perspective to show that you’ve given thought. ... It also makes sure you actively are listening. I think it’s tough to really digest if you’re thinking and positioning what your next comment’s going to be.” But that doesn’t mean an employee should come into the review without something to say. Reflecting on performance and goals is a rare discussion managers and employees don’t often make or have time for. “An employee should be headed into a performance review prepared to discuss accomplishments for the past year, how they met their goals, and the benefits to the company — efficiencies, savings, etc. Also, since every employee needs to be a steward of his or her own destiny, the employee should be ready and willing to discuss any training and development needs, as well as any additional resources necessary to meet or exceed the expectations of the position,” says Amy Harlow, senior vice president of human resources and administration at nfrastructure, a technology solutions company for large enterprises headquartered in Clifton Park. “While the employee should be prepared to listen, this process should really be a two-way discussion. There should be as much preparation by

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the employee as the manager since this is typically a dedicated, no-interruptions time period to discuss you.” And as much as everyone would love a merit raise discussion to be part of a glowing review, today’s economy makes that less of a possibility. Think of what other rewards might help further you in your career or personal life. Know those things ahead of time, so you don’t get led down a road that isn’t your greatest need. “I see how people talk to women in

I’ve done flex-time. I’ve done all sorts of things, but it’s certainly not the only part. I think what we need to be talking to women about is the strategic positioning and development that women should be doing in their career. “Consider whether there are professional opportunities that the company could provide that would further your career and you in the short-term or longterm — development, training, membership in a professional organization. Those

This is your opportunity to tell your story, all the things that you’re truly proud of.

the workplace about what they should be asking. Very often, the first thing people ask about is, ‘Maybe you could have more workplace flexibility.’ I’ve worked in a variety of different ways. I’ve worked for different people, and I’ve worked for myself. I’ve done part-time.

are things that you might be able to get that will help you be more promotable or more marketable.” If moving up is a goal, but the organization has no room to do that at the time, that shouldn’t stop a good employee from making her manager aware of the

goal during an evaluation, Regan says. She says she has eight people working under her but none of them have anyone reporting to them. Some of those employees have expressed interest in becoming supervisors, and though the opportunities aren’t there now, she now knows who is seeking extra responsibility should opportunities come. If they had only been discussing their performance during those conversations, she wouldn’t be aware of their ultimate career goals, she says. And that’s why it’s important to see performance reviews as opportunities. “This is your opportunity to tell your story, all the things that you’re truly proud of, that you’ve done throughout the year, or some of those things that you wish you’d done differently,” Heller says. “It’s actually a very effective, good discussion, and one that you don’t have to be nervous for.”  W  Jennifer Gish is the Times Union’s features editor.

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Surviving a Media Crisis Making the best of a bad situation


t can happen to you. Maybe you’ll see it coming or maybe you’ll be the last to know. Maybe it will be your fault or maybe you’ll be the victim. No matter what the issue, cause or outcomes, a disaster or emergency can strike your business at any time. And, along with the problem itself, it’s likely you’ll find yourself right in the middle of a media crisis, a situation in which your actions may affect how your business bounces back. While you may not be able to prevent a catastrophe from occurring, you may be able to minimize the damage and fallout. To do that, planning is critical. “To survive any kind of an adverse incident, any organization needs to have a contingency plan. A crisis communication or media plan is part of that. You need to 34 | women@work

have both,” says Al Bellenchia, managing director of Gramercy Communications in Troy. “Things happen. Accidents happen. Things break. Even smart people do stupid things and, sometimes, good people do bad things. You have to be prepared for this to happen and know what you are going to do — no matter what type of business you have.” Keeping the lines of communication open is your first step toward damage control, even if the outcome of the problematic situation is out of your hands. “People always fill in the dots when there’s a vacuum, so you want to control, to the extent that’s possible, the information that people have about you or a situation. If you’re passive, and don’t respond to an emerging situation, you

lose control,” Bellenchia says. It’s definitely a delicate balance. You need to communicate with the media, but by doing so, you don’t want to make a bad situation worse. “The way the media works today has changed so dramatically that being prepared for interactions with the media both positive and negative is more critical than ever,” says Jonathan Pierce, president and founder of Pierce Communications in Albany. “There’s so much media, with the advent and onslaught of social media, one poorly done interview or misspoken word can go viral. It can really impact a company or an individual’s reputation for years and years to come.” You can avoid those pitfalls by establishing predetermined responses

Photo: vm/GettyImages.

By Anna Zernone Giorgi

for worst-case scenarios and ways to respond to traditional media, as well as social media. “It comes down to the overall planning. Media is a channel; it’s not an audience. If you’re planning for communicating, and you’ve got a good strategy and you’ve got the plans in place, then your communication covers all the channels,” Bellenchia says. “Where many organizations fail is that they don’t have the plan in place. So, they are trying to catch up rather than starting from a position of being ahead of it.”

Go to the Pros For some executives, ensuring that the right message is delivered in the right way warrants formal media training. In these situations, communications professionals provide insight and advice geared to help the right person say the right thing at the right time. “Those who are prepared for encounters with the news media are much more effective in telling their story, disseminating their messages, and influencing how media coverage of their issues and activities evolve,” says Megan Baker, president and CEO of Baker Public Relations in Albany. “This

really requires the appropriate understanding, strategy, and technique to reach the desired audience.” The content and process associated with media training can vary depending on your organization’s needs, but all types of businesses can benefit from it in some way, Baker says. “It could be a small situation or it could be a large situation, but having someone prepared to know what type of questions the media will be asking and to make sure that they’re right on point with their messaging is key.” Ultimately, effective media training will address the ways your organization uses media and the channels that your audiences use. Most organizations will have some use for traditional mass media outlets in print, radio, or television. In addition, more businesses also require being brought up to speed on the increasing impact of social media. “Getting people to understand how quickly social media works and how strong of an influencer it is, even on traditional media, is really an ongoing effort. There’s a long way from the rules of journalism to social media,” Pierce says. “So, if you’re talking with a

Five Media Mistakes to Avoid While every media crisis is unique, communication experts say that committing any of these five media mistakes is likely to make any situation worse: Winging It Improvising or talking to a member of the media with little preparation or forethought is setting yourself up for a potential disaster on top of the one that created the media crisis in the first place. Always be prepared. Talking “Off the Record” It’s important to realize that

anything you say to a reporter or member of the social media can show up on the evening news, your local newspaper, or the next Facebook post. Assume that nothing you say is ever really “off the record.” Using Jargon Beware of using industry jargon or acronyms, especially in media directed toward the general public. While the terms may impress others in your industry, a confused reporter can produce a muddled message that won’t have the impact you intended.

Lying Reporters base their reputations on providing honest, factual information. When your deception is discovered, you’ll have a bigger media crisis than the one that started things in the first place. Always tell the truth. Not Knowing When to Stop Talking Listen carefully to the question you’re being asked and answer that, period. By talking too much you may make yourself vulnerable to issues that you’re not willing or prepared to discuss.

reporter, there’s one set of general rules. If you’re talking to someone with a million Twitter followers, there’s another set of rules.” It’s important to understand that information posted via social media channels can take on a life of its own, often without the checks that traditional media reporters use to ensure credibility. “I could tweet something like, ‘I work at XYZ Corporation and the place is about to blow up.’ That becomes accepted fact. However, I may not even work there, and no one checks that because with social media there’s no guarantee of that. We have to do everything we can to eliminate that and to manage that in a way that we’re controlling who speaks,” Pierce says. One of the best ways to manage information is to establish and enforce a plan that specifies rules for reaction, whether it’s an interview request for a feature article or a press conference to address a media onslaught. “The very first rule of media prep, whether it’s for social media or traditional media, is to make sure that everyone in the organization understands who is allowed to speak on behalf of the organization and then, making sure that that’s locked down. It helps eliminate a lot of inconsistencies and misinformation that gets out there when there’s a distinct chain of command that says, ‘Here are the people that are speaking on behalf of our organization,’” Pierce says. When appointed to do so, speaking on behalf of your business should never be taken lightly. Media experts advise that it’s appropriate to ask questions of the reporter so that you’ll be prepared for what’s thrown at you. And, if the request arises, the safest approach is never to talk “off the record.” “No matter what, regardless of the medium, preparation is key. We never, ever recommend an organization, or a company, or a spokesperson ‘wing’ the interview. We always want them to be prepared even if it’s just jotting down talking points. It’s really putting together their core message and communicating that effectively,” Baker says. continued on page 36 | 35

continued from page 35

36 | women@work

If you’re talking with a reporter, there’s one set of general rules. If you’re talking to someone with a million Twitter followers, there’s another set of rules.

– JONATHAN PIERCE, Pierce Communications may help you navigate unknown waters in a media storm. It’s easier to make contact with reporters when times are good and you have a positive message to convey, Pierce says. “It helps you in a crisis. Our rule of thumb is: when you really need friends it’s too late to start making them. The same applies to the media. When you really need a reporter to understand what you’re talking about and have a sense of who you are, and what kind of organization you are, it’s too late to start telling them about that when there’s been some sort of allegation or something terrible has happened.” In establishing media relationships, it’s important to respect a reporter’s deadlines and respond to inquiries in a timely manner. Speak honestly and follow through on promises to provide additional information if necessary, says Baker, who speaks with first-hand knowledge as a former television news anchor and reporter. “A lot of these writers, editors, and producers have more pressure on

them to develop more stories in a shorter amount of time because of the evolution of social media as well. So, they’re multitasking. It’s really important to get to know what the outlet is and get to know the reporter or the writer on a personal level.” Ultimately, having a plan in place and the ability to implement it can help you survive a media crisis. The media can play a key role in your maintaining employee loyalty, re-establishing customer confidence, addressing community concerns, and protecting your firm’s reputation in the wake of a wide range of business catastrophes. “A good reputation is one of the most valuable assets of any organization,” Bellenchia says. “A variety of studies show that organizations with better reputations have higher loyalty, higher sales, stronger customer relationships, so that protecting that valuable, if intangible, asset should be paramount to anyone who is leading an organization.”  W 

Photo: Hocus Focus Studio/ GettyImages.

Keeping your answers concise and free of complicated jargon will help make your message clear for general audiences, Baker says. She advises clients to avoid appearing defensive, nervous, or impatient, and to pay attention to the use of eye contact and body language. Most of these techniques can be mastered through practice. “Practice, practice, practice is very important,” she says. Practice also is important in gaining control over the interaction, Bellenchia says. “When someone asks a question, what’s the one thing that you want to get across in the answer –— that should be a short point to fill in. Then, you illustrate the point. Then, you give the facts to support the point, sort of like a pyramid,” he says. “What’s the one point that you want to get across? Then, how do you illustrate that and build layers? The reporter can choose what they want to use, but you get the ability to layer in a number of important things.” Though it’s important to prepare what you say, what you don’t say also can make an impact. “Remember ‘no comment’ is a comment. We always tell our clients to be prepared and to comment, as opposed to saying, ‘no comment,’” Baker says. “The goal of media training is to provide a greater understanding into the media for our clients and also to make our clients better communicators.” While you may not be able to anticipate your next media crisis, remaining media savvy can help you brace for times when you’re under fire. “If we’re paying attention to all the media in our area, that’s important. That helps us to better understand what type of coverage to expect, who’s coming, and what type of issues are out there,” Pierce says. “We are blessed in the Capital Region with a lot of really good media outlets and a lot of really good reporters — more so than a market our size would normally have. It means that there are a lot of opportunities to get your positive story out, but when there’s a negative story, it can feed on itself pretty quickly.” Reaching out to the media to establish relationships and understand their needs

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he payoff is social, not fiscal, for investors in the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region. Since 1985, this not-for-profit has promoted community development for the economically underserved in 11 New York counties, using pooled donations and investments from more than 500 individuals and corporations. “The return is in improved properties, jobs, new businesses and opportunities for start-up organizations,” says Executive Director Linda MacFarlane. “There are individuals who have had true hardships, whether it’s domestic abuse, the loss of a primary wage earner or some 38 | women@work

Get involved other significant life event, and they are able to turn their lives around through training courses, hard work and dedication. It’s amazing to see the drive and the passion that these individuals have. They’re coming from something very difficult. It can be very powerful.” Sarah Fish was moved to tears by the speeches she heard at the fund’s annual event, which showcased food from her Troy restaurant, The Hungry Fish Café. “It’s about making sure we have a good place to live, raise children and do business,” she says. “Being so new and small, banks wouldn’t even look at me. I wouldn’t have been able to relocate or

Business professionals can volunteer to assist in the Small Business Training Course and share their expertise with students. The curriculum includes strategic planning, marketing, sales forecasting, financial management, legal structure, insurance, risk management and tax issues. Investment levels start at $1,000 and go up to $1 million. Donations of any size are appreciated. Phone: 518-436-8586 Address: 255 Orange St., Albany, NY 12210 Website: E-mail: Facebook:

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Linda MacFarlane Age: 49 Title: Executive Director Family: 6-year-old daughter and husband Todd Hometown: Round Lake Lives in: Clifton Park Education: BA economics and math from SUNY Albany; MBA from the University of Phoenix Surprising fact: I don’t sit in an executive chair. I sit on a 75-centimeter fitness ball. It’s great for my core and it reminds me that there is a balance between work and home. First job: I had a paper route when I was a kid. I used to get up early on my bicycle and go around and deliver the papers. I also had to go around and collect from everyone. Toughest job: Conducting a forensic audit. There had been direct fraud, misuse of funds and poor accounting

going on for three years. The not-forprofit organization had lost money each year in excess of $210,000. I had to rebuild the organization from an employee morale standpoint. The board of directors had to be restructured. When I left, they were on very solid financial footing. Best decision: When I decided to promote myself and go after the job I really wanted. I had been running a bank credit department. A position for a lender opened up. The bank was looking externally for a candidate. I created a presentation. I ended with asking the bank president for the job. I became the loan officer, focusing on nonprofit lending and women-owned business. I had my first $1 million loan in that position. Hobbies: Spinning from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. every day, biking, kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking and needlepoint. Guilty Pleasure: Dark chocolate with a high cocoa concentration. I buy it in bricks and allow myself one square every night.

stay open if it weren’t for the Community Loan Fund. Before I even borrowed from them — from the conception of my restaurant — they offered advice and criticism. They are so supportive of making small businesses thrive.” Linda Kindlon is owner of Bake for You, an Albany from-scratch bakery known for its cookies. “Their encouragement and guidance is amazing,” she says. “I work out of a commercial kitchen. They helped me secure funding to expand into a retail space. They guided me through my business plan.” Women@Work: Who started the fund? Linda MacFarlane: A group of socially concerned individuals. Kirby White, our board president, was working at a minimum wage job. He took the $1,000 that he had saved for his car and made an investment in the loan fund. He felt it was more important to invest in the community than to have a car. continued on page 41 | 39



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W@W: What training do you provide?

W@W: How many loans have you granted?

MacFarlane: We offer free one-onone training. We also partner with the College of Saint Rose to run an eight-week business training course three to four times a year. We bring in experts from the community to teach different sections. The fee depends on the financial situation of the individual.

MacFarlane: Throughout the course of the organization, we have made probably close to 700 loans to businesses and not-for-profit organizations, such as the New York State Library Association and the Community Land Trust.

W@W: Where are you based?

MacFarlane: Our loan portfolio right now is between $9.5 and $10 million.

MacFarlane: In the Sheridan Hollow neighborhood [of Albany]. Walk around this area and there are a large number of vacant buildings with absentee landlords who allow the properties to run down. Housing is in demand. We partner with the Affordable Housing Project and other organizations to help provide housing and improve properties for landlords that are wanting to improve communities.

W@W: How much money is involved?

W@W: Do investors turn a profit? MacFarlane: The interest rate is low. A lot of our investors choose 0 percent. They could probably make more of a return, but they’re more concerned with what’s going on in the local economy. They are really socially concerned investors.  W 

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What Keeps Leaders Up at Night: Recognizing and Resolving Your Most Troubling Management Issues, Nicole Lipkin, Amacom, 288 pp, $21.95

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he central point of What Keeps Leaders Up at Night: Recognizing and Resolving Your Most Troubling Management Issues is basically one thing: empathy. “Being human is a messy, quirky, complicated, frustrating, perplexing, and sometimes frightening experience,” writes Nicole Lipkin, Leaders’ author. “All leaders and managers should invest as much time mastering the soft, human, mental side of business as they do the hard financial side.” Lipkin is psychologist who’s a national consultant on the topic of management and leadership. She’s also written another book on effective approaches for managing the newest workforce generation. She wrote Leaders, she says in the book, based on the mistakes she made and bouts of insomnia she suffered as a result of the complicated

process that is management. So why do managers struggle to manage? It happens to even the best bosses, Lipkin writes. Our need to be right supersedes our ability to be fair. It’s crucial, Lipkin says, to consider all perspectives of a situation or challenge if you’re going to make a fair decision about anything from giving a raise to assigning a project. The book offers to answer these four questions: “I’m a good boss, so why do I sometimes act like a bad one?”; “Why don’t people heed my advice?”; “Why do I lose my cool in hot situations?”; and “Why do good teams go bad?” Turns out, it all comes down to alleviating stress and tapping into your own experiences to empathize with your employees. Which, we know, is much harder than it sounds. But Leaders lends some handy tools.  W 

Notable Quote “Weak, self-serving leadership consistently results in stress, poor mental health, inhibited performance, and high levels of turnover.”

Instant Recall  “The too-proud-to-see variation on the good boss gone bad syndrome involves three problem-bound behaviors: 1. Letting yourself get so tied to an idea that you won’t let it go; 2. Refusing to heed the advice of others; 3. Relying on your past successes at the expense of weighing different patterns, options, or solutions.”  “The more we know about the tiny firings and misfirings of our brain chemistry, the power of environmental conditions, the inner workings of group dynamics, the nature of deeply rooted and firmly fortified psychological defenses and biases, and the function of cognitive process, the fewer mistakes we will make with our people and the more quickly we will correct the mistakes we do make.” | 43

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Enjoy the Times Union magazine experience. Online. Flip through the virtual pages of our Times Union magazine titles, accessible from anywhere online. The same award-winning layouts. More photos. Links that take you where you want to go. All from the comfort and convenience of your own device. body. mind. spirit.


Challenges, Changes, and Choices in the New Year By Silvia Meder Lilly


here’s nothing like a new year to prompt us to pause, reflect and focus on where we are and where we hope ultimately to be. Which areas of your life fail to satisfy? Are you in need of inspiration? Fortunately, 2014 comes complete with 365 days of fresh starts and new opportunities to achieve our objectives, be they personal, professional, or physical. Now, before you get overwhelmed about committing to yet another new diet, series of work goals or self-improvement regimen, take a deep breath. We’ll take things slowly with an eye on the ultimate goal — improving the overall quality of our lives by accepting challenges, making changes and exploring available choices. January: Try something you’ve never done before. Attend a yoga class or take advantage of one of those “learn to ski” days at a nearby ski resort. Are you perpetually in motion? Try to spend an entire weekend at home being as still as possible. As long as it is new and scares you just a little, do it. February: Instead of buying a commercial Valentine’s Day card, how about making one for your loved one? Single? Why not write a love letter to your child(ren) or even yourself, highlighting the characteristics of which you are proud? March: Are you in a rut at work? Maybe it’s time for something new. Wait! No need to leave your job, but have you considered altering your schedule, rearranging your workspace or learning a new job-related skill? Sometimes a small change brings big results. April: Take on a household task you’ve been avoiding. You might do something like give the pantry a thorough cleaning, inside and out, or sort through all of those miscellaneous

plastic containers and lids. An immediate sense of satisfaction is guaranteed! May: Participate in a community activity as a volunteer. May is full of events in the Capital District, including the always fun Tulip Fest and the 36th Annual Freihofer’s Run for Women. Volunteers are always needed. Why not lend a hand? June: As the school year comes to a close, why not commit to learning something new? Perhaps one of the local home stores is offering a howto class on installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen, something you’ve wanted to do for ages. Maybe it’s time to master that SLR camera you’ve been afraid to take out of auto mode. Do it! July: Expand your culinary horizons geographically by exploring an unfamiliar cuisine. Gather some recipes, assemble the ingredients and take a mini vacation without leaving your home. Sounds too complicated? Check out a restaurant that offers a fare that is new to you and work your way through the menu with a group of friends. August: Play tourist for a day and visit a local museum or historic site. Learning something new about the region can stimulate an appreciation for the past as well as inspire future actions. When was the last time you toured the State Capitol or checked out an exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art? How about arranging a “breakfast at the track” with your friends at the Saratoga Race Course, followed by a tram and walking tour of the historic track’s backstretch area? September: Freshen things up at home by

Silvia Meder Lilly, an Albany resident, enjoys the challenges of dual careers in the education and restaurant fields and is the mother of three boys. Other passions include friends, food, travel, books, writing and running.

updating your décor. This doesn’t have to be a huge expense either. A couple of gallons of paint can make a big impact with a small expenditure. Not motivated to paint? Consider switching out your shower curtain and hand towels and make a pleasing change in no time. October: As the seasons change, examine your closet with a critical eye, and perhaps the help of a friend. Evaluate what you have, what you wear and what is simply taking up room. Consider adding a couple of classic items in neutral colors to reinvigorate your wardrobe. November: Avoid holiday angst by getting a jump on planning how and where to spend upcoming significant occasions. If you have shared custody with a former spouse, have a discussion about where, and with whom, the children will be spending the approaching seasonal dates. On your own this year? Why not explore out-of-town options? If you’re willing to travel on Christmas Day, you can often get a great rate on airfare. Look for an early morning flight and you can be at your destination in time for a late lunch! December: Look ahead to tax preparation season and make sure you have maximized your deductions and charitable contributions. Spend an afternoon organizing financial statements, evidence of home improvements and other tax-pertinent documents. If the goal of 2014 was to improve the overall quality of your life, you have 31 days to examine your balance sheet. Speaking of balance, you owe it to yourself to use these days to slow down and enjoy the spirit of the season. Happy New Year!  W 

Working can be challenging for any woman. Add children into the mix, though, and the formula changes again. In Moms@Work, Silvia Meder Lilly shares her insights on working and raising a family. You can find her at | 45


Top Tip for Healthy Cooking “Use less oil in cooking and get the healthy fats elsewhere. And have vegetables be a larger part of your plate or at least equal to the protein that you’re making.”

The Happy


Holly Shelowitz wants you to eat butter. And eggs. By Brianna Snyder  |  Photos by Tyler Murphy


olly Shelowitz was working as a professional photographer when she realized her passion for cooking. “All throughout my [photography] career i was always taking cooking classes and nutrition classes and I loved being a creative artist,” she says. “In retrospect, that was funding my nutrition education.” For 15 years she worked as a photographer, eventually gravitating more toward cooking and nutrition. “They really were two passions that I had had,” she says. “I wanted to learn more about nutrition in a comprehensive program versus one class here or one class there. I always loved cooking and people were always calling me for recipes, going, ‘What should I eat?’” So she went to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City, where she realized, she says, “Oh, my goodness, this is totally what I want to do.” Shelowitz launched her business in 1999, right before graduating in 2000. Today, Nourishing Wisdom is a multi-service company: Shelowitz teaches cooking 46 | women@work

Holly’s MustHave Pantry Items ƒƒ QUINOA ƒƒ CELTIC SEA SALT ƒƒ RAW NUTS, such

as almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts


— any kind — garbanzo, black beans, navy beans, “anything you like”


ƒƒ good-quality classes, conducts workshops, proEXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL — vides personal chef services, nutrimake sure tion counseling, cooking parties and to get the food tours, and soon she expects to first-coldlaunch a cooking video series. pressed kind Many of Shelowitz’s clients ƒƒ UNSWEETENED are women who are confused by ALMOND MILK conflicting information about diet ƒƒ YOGURT ƒƒ EGGS and health. “One of the myths ƒƒ GREENS people come in to my practice with ƒƒ LEMONS is that eggs are unheatlhy,” she says. “There are certain foods that they’re afraid to eat, like butter. There’s so much confusion about the message out there about what’s healthy to the point where people just don’t know what to eat.” Many women try to be “good,” Shelowitz says, sticking to very low-fat diets, which usually leave a person feeling hungry all the time. “Women genuinely want to do what’s right for themselves and healthy, but they end up feeling really deprived and then they feel like, ‘Well, I’m just going to have a salad.’ But salad’s not enough. … By the time they get home they end up eating the house.” Shelowitz customizes her clients’ meal plans to fit their bodies, desires and lifestyles. “Often the problem is that we don’t have foods that are easy-access in the house, which is a big reason why people end up skipping meals or grabbing food on the run that doesn’t really help them or give them the nutrients that they really need,” she says. “Many women, because they’re not eating in a way that really serves their body, they end up relying on non-nutritional sources of energy: chocolate, sugar, coffee, Diet Coke, baked goods and sweets.” She doesn’t blame them: Sugar is addictive and it’s in everything. The key to overcoming those cravings, she says, is knowing how to feed your body. “There’s not one way of eating that’s right for everyone,” she says.  W  see recipe on page 49

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Dinner in 30 minutes continued from page 47

Lemony Chicken with Carrots, Collard Greens and Scallions Chef’s notes: The beauty of this recipe is variation. You can use any leafy greens or broccoli instead of collards, and you can use shrimp, tofu or meat instead of chicken. Enjoy! Ingredients 2 pounds chicken breast, sliced in strips 1 large bunch collard greens 3 carrots, sliced on the diagonal 1 red pepper sliced 8 scallions 3 lemons 4 tablespoons soy sauce Olive or coconut oil Method 1. Prepare chicken and slice into strips.

Wash collards and slice into bite sized pieces. Slice carrots and pepper. 2. Chop scallions; separate white and green parts. Juice 3 lemons 3. Warm oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add half of the white parts of scallion and sauté for 5 min. 4. Add chicken and sauté 7-8 minutes, adding 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons lemon juice midway through. 5. Remove and place in covered bowl. 6. Add a little more oil to pan with rest of the white parts of scallion and sauté. Add collards, the rest of lemon juice and soy sauce. Cover to steam sauté and stir every few minutes for 7 minutes. 7. Add chicken to collards, stir to mix and add scallions. Cover 5 minutes and serve over quinoa. (recipe follows)

Fluffy Quinoa Ingredients 1 Cup Quinoa (red, yellow or black) 2 1/2 Cups vegetable or chicken stock Fine grain sea salt Fresh ground pepper butter or olive oil to taste Method 1. Combine quinoa, stock and salt and bring to a boil. 2. Lower to simmer, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed - about 20 minutes 3. Serve with butter or olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper 4. Enjoy! | 49

I Resolve to… Make those New Year’s resolutions real — and attainable By Merci Miglino

Say Good Bye to Perfection Many women with careers and active home lives are so caught up in doing everything perfectly that they have no time for themselves. Dr. Mo Therese Hannah, associate professor of psychology at Siena College in Loudonville, says she resolves to “honor her needs both physical and emotional.” “Perfection is exhausting,” she says. “Do the best you can, accept the fact that you are human and take care of your human needs — eat well, rest and take time to recharge with activities that energize you.”

50 | women@work

Think 5 Minutes a Day Leslie Thornton, a busy nurse and medical student, resolves to make time for exercise, stretching and meditation, even if it’s only 5 minutes a day. “I will bring my lunch so I don’t have to spend time getting it and then I’ll use the extra time to take a walk, or close my eyes and rest,” she says.

Feed Your Creative Side Life gets busy. We sometimes forget why we create or what value it provides in our lives. Artist Mary Frances Millet of Schenectady resolves to “enjoy my life as an artist.” “Being creative helps me enjoy my work and my family even more,” Millet says. “When we make creativity a habit, we’re always learning something new … [N]ew ways of solving problems in our artwork, and in our life.”

Build a Puzzle Finding a balance between work and home is difficult, says Albany Common Councilwoman Cathy Fahy, especially when you feel pulled in too many directions. When she’s betwixt and between so many commitments, Fahy suggests building more puzzles in 2014 as a simple way to bring greater perspective into your life. “Never in a million years did I think that I would promote puzzles, but when life gets complicated simple things can be the best remedy,” she says. “Usually one person gets inspired and before you know it, the whole family gets involved. It is a relaxing activity, it allows you to step away from the busy-ness and connect with loved ones.”

Schedule Fun Time Katie O’Malley, of Katie O Weddings and Events in Troy, resolves to schedule a date night with her fiancé and more fun time with her staff. “I’m going to make certain that I have at least one night a week dedicated to date night with my fiancé. We both have

Photos: GettyImages. Champagne, Floortje; Heart puzzle, kyoshino; Calendar, klenger.


uring the chorus of clinking champagne glasses or amid the ritual countdown bidding good-bye to 2013 and hello to 2014, someone will inevitably turn to you and ask, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” Often our answers involve some promise to bring more balance into our lives, to work less and enjoy life more. This longed-for balance means different things to different people, but most work-life goals share a common thread — to manage multiple responsibilities at work, at home and in the world without guilt, stress or regret. To make these resolutions really stick, experts say, they need to be specific and you have know why you are committed to them or, said another way, what’s in it for you to make the commitment and follow through. With this mind, here are some very specific and rewarding New Year’s resolutions that can help you strike a better work-life balance in the New Year.

jam-packed schedules,” she says,” but each week we will look at our calendars and make certain that we have one night dedicated to just us.” With her staff, O’Malley wants them to feel appreciated with a break from the daily grind. “We might have pizza and beers or go out for cocktails to connect and recharge,” O’Malley says. “An impromptu visit to the frozen yogurt shop is always fun in the summer too!”

Schedule Me Time

me me me

Michelle Holden, hair and makeup stylist at Studio Locks in Schenectady, says she loves being at work, being with her husband, friends and family but “…it can get exhausting being so many things to so many people.” “So my New Year’s resolution is to have more time for myself,” she says. “ I will read more, paint more, and just go to a park and sketch!”

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Have a Plan Taking her inspiration from her dad, a WWII veteran who died at the age of 94, health coach and registered nurse Carol Gardner of Troy resolves to have a plan for the day, the month and the year. This helps her make decisions and choices about what she’ll take on and what she won’t. “My dad always had a plan for the day and was grateful every day for all that he had. He was positive and upbeat even in tough times,” says Gardner. “After he passed, I became acutely aware that each day is a gift and to keep a balance is so important to living a vibrant, authentic life.”

We’re no good to anyone if we don’t get enough sleep. So Lisa Higdon, professional organizer at Clear Spaces Organizing in Albany, resolves to get more rest. “I like to get up early and get things done before the rest of the household is up,” she says. “If I haven’t gone to bed early enough, I can’t get up and moving in the morning. This is frustrating because I’m wasting what should be my most productive time.”

Do Less Don’t drive yourself resolution crazy, adds Higdon. Pick one or two resolutions that will make the most difference in your life. Choosing and weeding out what no longer works for you gives you more time, less stress and overall peace of mind. “Remember you can’t save the entire world — and sometimes not even the PTA. You don’t have to chair that committee forever. Others will get over it if you don’t, and someone will step up,” says Higdon. ”Don’t let your ego get in the way. Someone else can and will do the job.”  W 

Photo: ©

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It’s Not Personal Why developing a thicker skin at work matters By Merci Miglino

This little bit of advice is offered day in and day out in the workplace for obvious reasons. Making the work at hand about the work at hand rather than personal, for instance, can help people discuss potentially tricky concepts and issues with less friction and therefore move a business move forward more quickly. Taking this approach can make it easier for people to discuss the way in which a particular business strategy is not working rather than devolve into a critique of the people who created or implemented it, which in turn means those people don’t need to take the issue personally. The whole focus can be the people, not the problem. At the same time, it’s hard to listen to criticism — perceived or real. It’s one thing to read we shouldn’t take something personally; it’s another entirely to implement it. The good news is that we can learn to develop a thicker skin, say the experts, but it takes patience, practice and a confidence. First, we must look at why we take things personally, says Martha McCormick, a training and management consultant with Capital EAP. “‘Don’t take it personally’ would rank near the top of my all-time list of useless things to say to people. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with the concept; it’s just that when it comes to criticism, we all take it personally. It’s part of our psychological make up. We’re hard-wired to defend what we do and what we love,” say McCormick. 52 | women@work

When we have thin skin, life’s inevitable blows don’t just trip us up; they can lay us out flat. Fortunately, even if your skin is paper-thin, you can do several things to make it thicker. Here are some practical tips for developing a thicker skin and lower your stress levels at work:

Don’t Make Assumptions Don’t assume the person doesn’t like you or is criticizing you. Often it’s about the other person and rarely has anything to do with you. “Having a thick skin doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t be offended by a negative comment, but instead it means I know how to process it in a constructive way so that I can turn it into a positive,” says Sarah Johnson, assistant vice president of Rose & Kiernan in Albany.

Get Out of the Weeds When a boss says something that you see differently take a step back and look for what he or she wants to accomplish. “Take a perspective of 50,000 feet as opposed to being in the weeds where the weeds are whipping you,” says CEO of Family Planning Advocates Tracey Brooks. “Come back to the situation and lead from a perspective that is greater than what’s happening to you … greater than your emotional reaction.”

Know Who You Are

Photo: DNY59/GettyImages.

Don’t take it so personally.

When you are confident, and can appreciate your strengths and weaknesses you don’t take things so personally, says Libby Post, owner of Communication Services in Albany. “Remember, you know what you’re talking about. You’ve done this before or something like it. Sometimes we learn the hard way, sometimes the easy way. ... All this builds a solid confidence. It is kind of unshakable,” says Post.

Decide for Yourself Everyone sees the world in their own way and one opinion is just as valid as another says Julie Ann Price, a lifestyle coach in Clifton Park. “In the end, you decide how to evaluate an opinion and the only one who can make it ‘personal’ is you.” “Whether or not my opinion has an impact on a decision is not a personal matter,” Price says. “I know to distance my feelings from the outcome and accept that the decisions made are not about me. They are about the situation and the decision makers are doing their best to assess all the variables and opinions on the table.”

Lighten Up Don’t take yourself so seriously. We are our own worst critics, says Johnson. “How can we expect someone else to give us a break if we can’t even give ourselves one?” says Johnson. “It’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves and accept our shortcomings.”

Welcome and Accept Feedback Be able to accept feedback and make necessary changes. Use it as an opportunity to learn and improve upon your professional performance. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions so that you really understand what is being said, and if you agree,” says Loretto, “you will be able to make the recommended

changes in your performance at work. If you disagree, you can calmly explain why. You are in control.”


the job. And park those negatives. “We use the parking-lot concept in our trainings,” says Beth Miller, of the Women’s Employment Resource Center

How can we expect someone else to give us a break if we can’t even give ourselves one?

— SARAH JOHNSON, assistant vice president of Rose & Kiernan

Develop a Strong Network Having a supportive network of trusted people to bounce your ideas off of can help you to improve your performance, and make you more resilient during tough times at work. “And by having outside interests you will not define yourself only by the work you do,” says Loretto. “Hobbies and friends outside of work allows you to see the bigger picture and helps you to maintain a more positive outlook both in and outside of work.”

Make Up a New Story When we take things personally, we’re creating a story around what’s happening. Change the story and we change our reaction to it, suggests Kat Koppett of The Mop & Bucket Co. Improv Group in Schenectady. “Using an improv mindset can help you choose a different story,” says Koppett. “So I’m telling the story that my boss or co-workers hate me and think I’m stupid. But what’s another story? What are six other stories that I could make up for the same situation? Maybe they’re cranky because they had a fight with their wife or husband and so on.”

Focus on the Positives and Park the Negatives

in Albany. “This encourages women to put aside hurt and anger, move on and, if you need to revisit those things at some time, it’s always there. And really use the network of others to help you realize that, maybe, ‘I could have done this a little bit better, or next time I’m going to look at it in a different perspective.’”

Investigate the Past Sometimes the reason a comment hurts or a situation seems unbearable is because it reminds us of a deeper wound from our past. “Interactions in the present can really mirror a past experience,” says Melissa Loson, Schenectady therapist and social worker, “which can cause us to respond in the same manner as we have in that prior experience. By identifying what those moments are, you can release them. You get to heal them and then you learn that you can respond differently.”

Stop Before You Become Callous A thick skin can be taken too far and lead to loss of compassion and connection. “We don’t want to become so emotionally disassociated from ourselves or others,” says art therapist Maureen Del Giacco, Albany. “That we lose our humanity ... our ability to act from our heart.”  W 

Remember the positive things the job is giving you and you are giving to | 53

Getting Away:

Puerto Rico

By Stacey Morris  |  Photos courtesy of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC)


f you’re like many residents of the Capital District who make a winter escape a priority, why not head a little farther south this year and experience immersion into another culture with no passport required? Puerto Rico is a neighbor, a U.S. territory and a vacation refuge where the only ice you’ll encounter are the cubes clinking in your mojito. Set in the northeastern part of the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico is the smallest in the chain of islands in the Greater Antilles. But at 100 miles long by 35 miles wide, Puerto Rico is the giant in 54 | women@work

an archipelago that includes the smaller islands off its coast, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona and a few smaller islets and cays. Its green lushness is thanks to a yearround tropical climate and generous amounts of rain — average is about 50 inches a year but that figure doubles for the island’s 28,000-acre rainforest in the northeast. At a population of just under four million, the island’s topography is a mix of unspoiled mountain ranges, beaches and bustling cities with high-rise hotels and shopping centers.

In 1508 the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon founded the original European settlement now known as Old San Juan. Prior to that, Puerto Rico was inhabited by the Tainos, a pre-Columbian indigenous people who inhabited the Bahamas and Greater Antilles. Since becoming a U.S. territory in 1898 following the Spanish-American War, the island’s official languages are English and Spanish, but the latter is more prevalently spoken. Each corner of the island has a slightly different vibe, whether it’s the history-

steeped city of Ponce in the south, the Mission-style architecture in San Germán on the western side, or the luxury spas, five-star restaurants and nightclubs of Condado in the north (a prime oceanfront strip of real estate considered to be the South Beach of Puerto Rico). And for a compact space, there’s an intriguing range of activity options, from secluded hikes in the rainforest to a glitzy round of blackjack at the casinos.

Must-Sees Old San Juan Not far from the urbanism of San Juan is Old San Juan, the island’s oldest settlement and a grid of 16th-century cobblestone streets, colonial buildings, castles and restored architecture. Founded more than five centuries ago, Old San Juan reflects Puerto Rico’s historical past, and, with a staggering concentration of museums, is the perfect place to learn about the island while also taking in some shopping and fine dining. The San Juan Museum of Art & History has traditional Puerto Rican art and audiovisual shows that showcase the island’s history. The Museum of the Americas, housed at the Cuartel de Ballajá, old military barracks built in the 1850s, has collections of popular and folk art of Latin America. Also check out the Plaza de Armas, the city’s original main square once used as military drilling grounds, and La Fortaleza, the former fortress that’s now the governor’s official residence. Glowing in the Dark Island Adventures Biobay Eco-tours Vieques (787) 741-0720 · Unplug (literally) from the world and allow Mother Nature to dazzle you with her own light show, taking place after sundown in a bioluminescent bay off the shore of Vieques, an island off Puerto Rico’s east coast. The protected bays surrounding Vieques are inhabited with a particular variety of microorganisms, which, when stirred by swimming, splashing, or paddling, alight the dark

Old San Juan

Island Adventures Biobay Eco-tours waters an ethereal bluish-green. Tour the bay of Puerto Mosquito on an electrically powered double-pontoon boat as guides explain the ecology of the plants and animals that live in the bay, as well as the super-lit constellations above. The website even has a moonwatch calendar for optimal times to visit the bay.

Best Family Attractions El Morro Castle 501 Calle Norzagary Old San Juan (787) 729-6960 · Old San Juan’s crown jewel is a 16th-century citadel fort that defended the island from pirates and other invaders, and could be considered the tropical version of our region’s Fort Ticonderoga. Puerto Rico’s key position in the Caribbean Sea made it a prized outpost for the Spanish army. Known as “the Gibraltar of the Caribbean,” the fort’s formal title is Castillo

San Felipe del Morro, named after King Philip II of Spain. Brief orientation talks are given every hour on the hour; then visitors are free to roam the multi-level fortress and take in its stunning ocean views. Afterwards, you can walk the massive grounds, fly kites on the grassy field (breezes off the Caribbean are ideal), or shop the nearby cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. The Rainforest (El Yunque) Rio Grande (787) 888-1880 · Another great aspect of Puerto Rico: You can hike through a tropical rainforest without traversing south of the equator. El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. This 28,000-acre northeastern preserve at 3,500 feet gets daily torrents of rain that give way to a lush biodiversity and thousands of native plants, including 150 fern species. Guided nature walks are offered at | 55

Outdoor Activities Wow Surfing School & Water Sports Ave. Principal 884 Monte Carlo San Juan (787) 955-6059 Even if you’re a beginner, this is the perfect place to give surfing or paddleboarding a shot. The waves aren’t mammoth like Hawaii’s but just big enough. Group and private lessons are available.

depending on the package. El San Juan Resort & Casino 6063 Isla Verde Avenue Isla Verde (888) 579-2632 Get your 007 on at this casino, considered to be the island’s most elegant. There’s no need to limit the festivities to blackjack, though, because the hotel has eight

restaurants, ranging from the Northern Italian cuisine of La Piccola Fontana and the modern Caribbean meals (and rum bar) at Koko to Brother Jimmy’s Barbecue and the poolside La Terraza.

Golf Puerto Rico is one never-ending coastline. The 100-mile-long island practically has ocean views everywhere you turn.

Toro Verde Adventure Park Orocovis (787) 867-7020 If extreme adventure is one of your passions, Toro Verde just may be the highlight of your visit to Puerto Rico. The 300-acre park in the mountains of Orocovis features sky-high suspension bridges, zip-line courses and rock climbing. Its most famous section by far is La Bestia, the longest single-run zip in the world at nearly 5,000 feet long. Carabali Rainforest Park Luquillo (787) 889-4954 A variety of outdoor activities are offered at this mountain park, including horseback riding (through mountain trails or at the beach), ATV trails, mountain bikes and zip-line tours.

The Rainforest (El Yunque)

Best Places for Couples A Day-Long Sail to Culebra East Island Excursions Route 3, Marina Puerto Del Rey Fajardo (787) 860-3434 Sip piña coladas during the 45-minute sail on a 62-foot power Catamaran to Culebra, the 12-mile island off the Puerto Rico’s east coast. You’ll land at Icacos Marine Reserve, where you can swim, snorkel over the reefs or soak up the sun on the white sugar-sand beaches. Buffet lunches or beach barbecues are served, 56 | women@work

Old Tank at Flamenco Beach on Culebra

Flamenco Beach photo Jirka Matousek/Creative Commons; El Conquistador Resort photo by vxla/Creative Commons.

a fee every Wednesday, departing three times per day.

Because of this, the island boasts many scenic golf courses.

El Conquistador Resort

Dorado Beach Resort & Club 500 Plantation Drive Dorado (787) 626-1001 Home to four championship golf courses, including the famous East and West golf courses originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and situated along the shores of the former estate of Laurence Rockefeller. Royal Isabela Luxury Golf Course & Resort 396 Av. Noel Estrada Isabela (787) 609-5888 A nature-lover’s paradise and golf resort, the oceanside setting will evoke shades of Pebble Beach for some. The property features cliff-top golf links that are both manicured and framed with native trees and flowers, a lodge, five-star restaurant, and a string of private villas (casitas) with their own pool.

Dining Marmalade Restaurant & Wine Bar 317 Calle Fortaleza San Juan (787) 724-3969 · A favorite of the Hollywood crowd that comes for fine dining paired with a hip lounge. The menu ranges from raw and vegan to carnivorous plates of Jamon Iberico. Don’t miss their Chai-Spiced No-No Cake, a magical confection with no gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, GMOs or refined sugar. Tamboo Beach Bar and Harbor Restaurant Sandy Beach Road 413 Interior Rincon (787) 823-8550 · Everything tropical dining al fresco should be. Watch surfers catch the waves as your just-caught entree arrives, served under sheltering palms with a side of ocean breeze. Specialties include plantain-crusted shrimp and half-pound burgers topped with sofrito.

Best Time of Year to Visit

Try To Avoid

Getting There

Late January through early March still affords a lovely respite from snow and ice while not coinciding with throngs of tourists. Other good off-peak times to visit are October and November (excluding Thanksgiving week), and the first two weeks in December.

Although hard-core island lovers will tell you there’s no bad time to visit Puerto Rico, it’s always a good idea to avoid hurricane season (generally late July through September). To elude peak tourist crowds, also avoid early January and spring break weeks.

Puerto Rico has several airports, the largest being Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in San Juan. Twelve airlines fly to the island, including American, Continental, Delta, U.S. Air and Southwest. For more information on Puerto Rico, visit

Lodging Casa Flamboyant Fajardo (787) 874-6074 This elegant bed and breakfast in the El Yunque rainforest has a no-children policy, exotic gardens and nearby walking trails to explore the rainforest and bathe in its waterfalls and the Cubuy River. El Conquistador Resort & Waldorf Astoria Spa 1000 El Conquistador Ave. Fajardo (787) 863-1000 A world unto itself, the cliff-top resort has family activities including teen golf clinics and rainforest exploration, beach

volleyball, its own water park with slides and a lazy river, movies, mother-daughter spa treatments, and Family Olympics for those keen on competition. Better yet, sip a post-massage energy shake in the spa’s tranquil tea room overlooking the Caribbean. St. Regis Bahía Beach Resort State Road 187 Rio Grande (787) 809-8000 · On the beach and near the foothills of El Yunque Rainforest, St. Regis offers tropical elegance in a romantic setting. The resort offers a challenging 18-hole golf course, its own private beach and the internationally acclaimed cuisine of Chef Jean-George.  W | 57


How do you ask for a raise?

Compiled by Genevieve Scarano


nowing what to do in sticky situations is one of the hardest parts of being a manager. Each issue of W@W we’ll feature a tricky issue with answers from area HR professionals, managers and business owners. If you have a question you’d like answered, drop us a line on Facebook,, or send an e-mail to Your question will be kept confidential.

“Keep track of all your accomplishments and ‘wins’ over the course of the year, and then schedule a carefully timed appointment with your supervisor. Instead of leading with an outright ask for a number, start by detailing your value to the company, and then ask to discuss the possibilities for an increase in compensation — this creates the right frame for the conversation. It also can only help to practice delivering what can be an uncomfortable conversation with a friend to make your delivery smoother in the actual discussion.” – Kelly Mateja, director of programs and services, Colonie Senior Service Centers, Inc.

58 | women@work

“Asking for a raise should be a culmination of a clearly successful work history where you can point to measurable results that support the company. You should always know where you stand with your supervisor and if not, make sure to get a status update regularly. That way there are no surprises and you can gauge the perfect time. When that time comes, start out by saying how much you love your job and want to continue to escalate your contribution. At this point I’m hoping you’ll agree that the value I bring and potential to do more would be consistent with a great raise?” – Dawn Abbuhl, president, Repeat Business Systems, Inc.

– Susan Commanda, chief executive officer, Hudson River Community Credit Union

“My dad coached me (thankfully!) at the beginning of my career on how to effectively and professionally ask for a raise; and in retrospect, it’s about providing a summary of how I exceeded (not just met) the needs of my employer, particularly from a financial standpoint. Nothing is more powerful than adding up the annualized cost savings, say, of insourcing executive recruiting or avoiding a costly lawsuit, and then outlining the total savings as three times the cost of my own total compensation. I would then set up a meeting with my immediate supervisor, provide the summary of cost-savings exceeding their needs for the past year, and ask them to respectfully consider a raise commensurate with my results, also in anticipation of continuing (or exceeding) my track record to date.” – Debra J. M. Best, SPHR Deb Best Practices

Illustration: ©


“Throughout my career, I have often found the best way to ask for a salary increase was not necessarily to come right out and ask for one … but to do my level best at each and every task in my job description and let the financial reward follow. In short, to let my actions speak louder than words. I have found, that by recommending viable solutions to challenges presented and going above and beyond the expectations of my role, helped make my manager shine in the eyes of the organization. In doing so, I became a more valued resource. The more value you bring to your organization the more personal and professional growth, recognition and financial reward will come your way!”

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Women@Work, Jan/Feb 2014  

The Capital Region Women@Work community is an innovative support network of women who hold executive and managerial positions in the 518 are...

Women@Work, Jan/Feb 2014  

The Capital Region Women@Work community is an innovative support network of women who hold executive and managerial positions in the 518 are...